Ruth: 1:16-21; The doctrine of bitterness, part 2.

Class Outline:

Title: Ruth: 1:16-21; The doctrine of bitterness, part 2.  


RUT 1:20 And she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.


RUT 1:21 I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?"


"Almighty" - Shaddai = God who gives fruitfulness and increase.

"Mara" - bitter.


Naomi is maligning God's name.


The first time this name is used in the Bible is by God and it is associated with an abundance of descendents.


GEN 17:1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him,


"I am God Almighty;

Walk before Me, and be blameless.


GEN 17:2 "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you,

And I will multiply you exceedingly."


GEN 17:3 And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,


GEN 17:4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,

And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.


GEN 17:5 "No longer shall your name be called Abram [exalted father],

But your name shall be Abraham [father of a multitude];

For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.


The multitude of nations includes the Gentile nations, including Moab, Ruth's origin.


The name is also associated with power, as the Hebrew root shadad means absolute power or destroyer. This is why it was translated into the Greek word for "Almighty" by the writers of the Septuagint.


So we have a name for God which means all powerful giver of fruitfulness and increase. If He is for me and not against me, what must be my expectation of the future? Hope.


Noami is bitter because she only seeds a dark and painful future. When any of us are bitter, that is all we see. We must look past the near future and we must also find the strength and teaching of the Lord while the trial is upon us. Remembering what you know, specifically implementing the appropriate truth, and putting your faith in it, is the cure for bitterness.


PSA 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty [Shaddai].


PSA 91:2 I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress,

My God, in whom I trust!"


PSA 91:3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper,

And from the deadly pestilence.


PSA 91:4 He will cover you with His pinions,

And under His wings you may seek refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.


We must depend on His faithfulness. Will He do it? Will He bring us through? Will He reveal the goodness that is so difficult for us to find in the trial? Because of who He is, the answer is always "Yes, and Amen."


2CO 1:17

For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.


The doctrine of bitterness.


We will look at this word as it is used in both testaments. We will attempt to define it and determine how to avoid it, and if it occurs, how to cure it. 


Sometimes it’s better to look at something from the viewpoint of what it is not. The opposite of bitterness would be tranquility and peace. It would be joy and contentment. It would be love. 


Bitterness: sharp pain in the soul as a result of hell's thinking, rebellion against God, selfishness, want, and ignorance.


Bitterness is pain. It is sharp pain in the soul. It is always the result of hell’s thinking. It is a result of rebellion against God. We are to fear and submit to God in humility. It is a result of selfishness. We are to be gracious and sacrificial. It is the result of want. We are to be made full by Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.


When I think of want, especially this time of year, I think of Dickens’ Christmas Carol when he has his final words with the ghost of Christmas Present.


“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?”


“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”


From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

“Oh, Man, look here! Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.


They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.


Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.


“Spirit, are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.


“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”


“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.


“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

The bell struck twelve.


Scrooge is a fine example of a character overwhelmed with bitterness. Ignorance and want will always produce bitterness. Ignorance of God, His salvation, and His plan will combine with incessant want making bitterness swell and fester in the cut soul. The spirit says to Scrooge, "Deny it!" meaning to deny ignorance or you will face doom. Used it for your own purposes and you will make it worse, you will become more ignorant, and you will abide your end, meaning, all reap what they sow.


Greek: pikria (noun), pikraino (verb), pikros (adj. and adv.).

From pik, meaning "to cut, to prick," hence, lit., "pointed, sharp, keen, pungent to the sense of taste, smell, etc.


Bitterness feels like a cut soul with a little salt sprinkled on it. It is painful to the soul and its results bring grief to others. It often results in rotten words spoken. The Bible has much to say on what we say and how we speak.


Bitterness is associated with the spoken words from a man whose heart is rotten.


JAM 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.


James is writing to Jews in the first century. These Christian Jews still had the way of their past haunting them. The Jew coveted the title of Rabbi, and now the church offered a vehicle to become a teacher (didaskalos) without going through all the rigor of becoming a rabbi. Apparently, many sought for such an office, but it is better to have fewer teachers who have the gift and are prepared, and thus qualified, then to have many of which a large portion are unqualified.


The mention of bitterness does not come until verse 11, but the context is of great importance when desiring to understand a passage. James is warning us of bitter speech, and the circumstance of the unqualified teacher leads us to see one of its major causes. For it doesn't have to be a teacher, but any endeavor for which we are unqualified. When the fruit that we wish to see in any endeavor is not found because we have been ambitious in our beginning and have not sought to understand and so complete the preparation necessary, then we will become bitter, and often speak out bitterness.


The unprepared and unqualified teacher must eventually become bitter, since there will be no blessing in his teaching, which blessing he hopes for.


This is not just an application to the office of pastor teacher. All of us should be willing to become a public instructor when called to it by the Holy Spirit and the providence of God, even if your audience is one person.


However, when a person wants to open up his mouth about truth or doctrine with the purpose in mind of himself or the admiration of himself, then he will only do harm to the truth and thus, when he recognizes this, he will become bitter.